The local racetrack has put 38 staff members on notice that their employment would be terminated after this season's scheduled race program ends, Nov. 24. The Downs is laying the blame for the terminations at the feet of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and its decision to end the Slots At Racetracks program on March 31, 2013.
Sudbury Downs will not survive the relocation of the slot machines that have operated there since 1999, said the racetrack’s director of operations, Andrew MacIsaac.
“It’s a terribly difficult and sad thing to have to do,” said Sudbury Downs General Manager Ken Le Drew about the terminations. “We’re still fighting to survive, but the province has turned its back on our local industry and our mayor and city councillors appear bogged down with their own internal issues.”
The future of Sudbury Downs remains uncertain, but, with its race season coming to an end, “we must give staff fair and proper notice and let them know, at present, there will be no job to return to in April 2013," Le Drew said.
“This is just the start” said MacIsaac. “Without some positive developments, further notices of termination will be issued for Dec. 31, 2012 and March 31, 2013.”
The 100-plus jobs at risk are just Sudbury Downs employees and do not include the horsepeople, their employees, OLG staff or the businesses and jobs that support horse racing, he said.
The province claims that by modernizing its gaming system to focus on land-based gaming, it will increase revenues by more than $1 billion a year. The move, according to OLG, will create 2,300 new jobs in the gaming industry and 4,000 additional jobs in the hospitality and retail sector by 2017-18.
Those in the racing industry, either directly or indirectly employed, refute those claims. They question why the government would cut loose a program that generates more than $1 billion a year for Ontario and employes thousands of people who, if the program ends, stand to lose their jobs.